Review: 2006 Ford Crown Victoria

One of the downsides to the Crown Vic's advanced age is that it's missing some of the safety gear found in newer cars, although the large car has performed well in crash tests. Side airbags are optional, but there are no curtain airbags. Traction control is available, bundled with panic brake assist, which helps apply full braking power in fast stops. Stability control, however, isn't offered. Laminated side glass, which is more shatter resistant than regular glass, is available for the LX and LX Sport.

All Crown Victorias have V-8 power, a four-speed automatic, and rear-wheel drive. Despite the implied promise of eight cylinders, the 4.6-liter engine makes an unimpressive 224 horsepower in Standard and LX trim. In the LX Sport, it musters an additional 15 hp. In either case, the harsh 4.6-liter V-8 delivers its power higher in the rev band than is typical for larger displacement engines. Towing capacity is a relatively modest 1,500 pounds. The Ford engine's output trails far behind the 340 hp offered by the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 available in the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Charger at a price point comparable to the LX Sport.

The Crown Victoria is one of the last American cars still using body-on-frame construction, a V-8 engine powering the rear wheels, and a solid (or "live") rear axle. Because this layout was common in years past, the Crown Vic has a certain "retro" feel behind the wheel. The steering is light and numb, and the handling is rather lazy. The LX Sport tightens things up a bit with firmer springs and dampers and a stiffer rear stabilizer bar. (This same setup is available as the Handling and Performance Package for the LX, as well.) Neither suspension setup is very smooth riding, however, as the solid rear axle makes the car hop over bumps and under heavy acceleration. Again, Chrysler is able to provide both a better ride and more composed handling thanks to the more sophisticated, independent rear suspension in its 300.

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